Penguins: No progress in Hamhuis talks
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Ray Shero spoke with free-agent-to-be Dan Hamhuis on a conference call Tuesday.
Talked a bit with his agent, Wade Arnott, too.
But whether Shero actually will discuss contract terms with either at some point, well, that remains to be seen.
Tuesday night, Shero described his interaction with the Hamhuis camp as "ongoing discussions," and rejected a suggestion that they could be characterized as negotiations.
"Not yet," he said. "I don't think so."
Arnott said simply that, "We continue to have dialogue with the Penguins."
The Penguins are starting to run out of time to convince Hamhuis, whose rights were acquired from Philadelphia for a third-round draft choice Friday, that he should seriously consider the idea of playing here.
If he is not signed by noon Thursday, Hamhuis will qualify for unrestricted free agency and be free to sign with any team that wants him.
There have been numerous suggestions that his preference is to play in, or at least near, his home province of British Columbia, although neither he nor his agent has said so publicly.
Signing Hamhuis and fellow defenseman Sergei Gonchar are Shero's priorities as the start of free agency closes in, but neither seems particularly close to accepting a contract.
Asked about the Gonchar negotiations, Shero said "nothing's really new" and "not much has changed there."
Gonchar's agent, J.P. Barry, could not be reached for comment.
Defenseman Jordan Leopold and Mark Eaton remain on the periphery of the Penguins' plans -- and could move into more prominent spots if Hamhuis and/or Gonchar do not sign -- and Shero has stayed in touch with both.
He spoke directly to Leopold Tuesday, although there is no evidence they had any talks of consequence.
"We're in the same position as before, not close to anything yet," said Leopold's agent, Ban Hankinson. "I expect that we'll talk again [today] or Thursday [morning]."
Steve Bartlett, who represents Eaton, acknowledged that the Penguins' focus is on Hamhuis and Gonchar, but suggested his client could end up viewing the Penguins as a fallback position, much as they seem to be looking at him.
"Obviously, I think they need to see about Gonchar and Hamhuis," Bartlett said. "And it may impact our thoughts as well."
Shero apparently has not set a deadline for Hamhuis or Gonchar to sign, but made certain the Hamhuis camp is aware that, "the sooner I know [whether he wants to negotiate], the better."
Still, he understands that he can't force Hamhuis to make a decision before he is ready.
"I'm just waiting to see if they will take it the next step," Shero said. "This is part of the process in trading for a player's rights. This process isn't done, at all."
First Published June 30, 2010 12:00 am